Which Comes First: The Builder or the Designer?
Just like the proverbial “chicken and egg” question, “Which comes first?”
is a question that confuses some people, but must be answered before you
start the custom, homebuilding process. While the answer may seem
obvious, it’s important to know the right answer in order to avoid problems
from the beginning. The architect designer comes before the builder, right?
Wrong! Read on…
Sometimes people get the cart before the horse, and in all the excitement,
they get ahead of themselves. Mike and Janine thought they had done it
all right. They had a roll of plans tucked under their arms, a sparkle in
their eyes, and a skip in their steps because they knew they had something
very special—they had the plans to their dream home.
During the last several months, Mike and Janine had spent countless
hours dreaming about their new home and holding meetings with their
architect designer. They went through revision after revision poring over
the plans until late in the evenings. The couple worked tirelessly to make
every room just right—put the baby’s room here, move the daughter’s
room there, make that closet just a bit wider, add two feet to the kitchen—
giving instruction upon instruction to their designer about each room.
Their dream home included the newest ideas from This Old House, the
latest trends in low voltage lighting, and cutting-edge insulation that could
lower energy bills by up to 90 percent. It had a cabana like the one they
saw while vacationing in Acapulco, layers upon layers of moldings, extra
tall ceilings, an additional bay in the garage, a steeper roof that was
changed—not twice, but three times—because their friends told them it
looked too shallow.
Mike and Janine were now ready to find a builder. They were so excited!
Janine was bubbling over with her plans—holiday decorations, birthday
parties, and dinners with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma. They
had their finished plans, and they were now ready to build. They could
see it; they could taste it; they could hear the sounds of laughter around
And then the moment of truth arrived.
They were ready to talk to a builder and get him started on their new
house. But here was the problem: the actual cost to build this house—the
house they had labored over for so many hours, over so many months—
ended up costing 40 percent more to build than they expected.
How did this happen? Well—they asked the architect designer and he
gave them his estimate of what it would cost. That’s what they based their
plans on. The architect designer’s estimate.
And that is the problem. The architect designer is not trained in doing
cost estimates. This news was so devastating to them that Mike and Janine
just rolled up their plans, walked out the door, and… sold their lot.
Their dreams had been shattered and they were crushed. After all their
initial efforts, they couldn’t gather the energy to start the process all over
again. But it could have been different. If only this enthusiastic couple
had known the importance of which comes first: the builder, not the designer.
A meeting with a qualified planning builder will help you identify the
type of home that fits your pocketbook. Choosing a style of materials and
cost of finishes will help you establish a rough estimated price before you
start your plan design. For example: choose the type of exterior brick,
stucco or stone, roof, windows, doors, energy-efficient appliances and
plumbing, insulation, lighting, cabinetry and designer finishes like staircases.
If you’re in this predicament and you’re unwilling to sell your lot, turn
the page and discover what happens next by reading Jim and Linda’s story.